This Stigma

This month I was discussing a few issues on a forum. During these discussions we came to an interesting thought. The reason most men do not fight against the system is simple. Stigma. There is a horrible stigma against a lot of different crimes and situations that are used to deny men their rights.

Lets start off with the easiest to see as of late. Rape. Most of the US has a good example sitting in front of it with the Duke Lacrosse rape case. Now the stigma against rapist is pretty profound, we see rapist as worse then murders in some sense. Many women consider rape as worse than death. As such when a man is accused of rape he is immediately demonized in the public eye. He is automatically seen as guilty on the woman’s word alone. He has to prove his innocence. Now many men are found innocent but are still affected by the stigma that accusation carries. Many people will never see you the same way after such charge even if you are found innocent. The strong stigma is what allows us to harm the accused and dismiss any wrongdoing against them.

The next crime that carries such a stigma is sexual harassment. Now this was originally see as when you made unwanted contact with another person or demanded sexual services for a favor or promotion. These actions carried a strong stigma just like rape. However, lately the law has become very watered down. Now everything from a dirty joke, a pinup calendar, or just looking at someone the wrong way can be construed as sexual harassment. A lawyer once commented that sexual harassment is whatever the victim says it is. If the victim feels violated then you have harassed them. Now of course this SHOULD remove the stigma with such inane laws. However, the original stigma remains causing what should be light offenses to be dealt with like horrible crimes.

Then we come to the dual crimes of domestic violence and child abuse. Now the only thing that connects these two is the fact that they are other used in divorces a lot. False accusations are made revolving around DV or child abuse in an effort to get a leg up on the other side. Most often it is used against the father or husband (depending on whether there are children). There have been some horrible abuses over the years and this is what has built up such a stigma. However, the difficulty comes with how hard it is to prove these things one way or another. They usually happen behind closed doors with no witnesses. As such it is very hard to prove something did or didn’t happen. Since some things are seen as so horrible the judges elect to err on the side of caution. Men are stripped of their rights just ‘in case’. Restraining orders are given out just ‘in case’. So men are thrown out of their own homes and taken away from their children just to be on the safe side.

Men’s rights activists always ask why men are not joining the cause. Why men don’t fight back. Can’t we see what is going on and what is being taken away from us? The simple reason we don’t is due to these stigmas in society. We automatically damn anyone who is accused of such a crime. Men think that these things only happen to those that have done something to deserve them. It can’t happen to us because we are good people. So we shut out the moans and laments of others. A man’s eyes get opened when it does happen to him. At that point in time we start shouting out to others to open their eyes. But now that it has happened to us we now carry a stigma. Those who haven’t been hurt by the system block us out since we must have deserved it. If we are supposed to deserve it, then why would the majority care what abuses we suffer?

If we wish to regain our rights, the first thing that must be done is breaking these stigmas. We must show people that if accused we are not bad people. That no one should be damned until the guilty verdict is given. We must make presumption of innocence not be a mere technicality to most. All news reporters will refer to an alleged crime, but report it as the accused is guilty and all that is left is a swift trial. If we can show this then we have a better chance at changing those laws that strip men of their rights.

For more of Zach’s work click the link below:
http://www.honornetwork.com/ZacharyHorton.html

Originally posted 2007-11-20 15:34:29.

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